Biden heads to California to survey the damage from severe storms

President Joe Biden will visit parts of California on Thursday to view areas affected by severe storms and assess additional federal support needed for recovery efforts.

The president will survey areas of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties along the state’s central coast, where recent storms caused floods and landslides.

He is set to meet with first responders, state and local officials, and communities affected by the devastation. Deanne Criswell, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will travel with Biden, who will also meet with Gov. Gavin Newsom.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday that Biden has been closely monitoring the situation in California in recent weeks and is regularly briefed by his homeland security team. He has remained in contact with Newsom and other local officials.

A flooded house in Gilroy, Calif., in Santa Clara County, on Jan. 9. Josh Edelson / AFP – Getty Images

Biden’s visit to California comes after the White House announced he approved a disaster declaration for the state focusing federal aid on three hard-hit counties: Merced, Sacramento and Santa Cruz. The declaration provides federal support for debris removal, emergency protective measures and individual assistance for homes that have been damaged by the storms. More than 500 FEMA and other federal personnel  have been deployed to aid the response and recovery operations, Jean-Pierre said.

California was battered by a series of storms since late December, leaving at least 21 people dead, according to an NBC News tally

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